Factory farms and other big corporations are trying to create pockets of lawlessness across the United States.
Corporate front groups American Legislative Exchange Council—the group behind voter identification, stand your ground, and ag-gag laws—and Compact for America recently revealed their latest strategy to shield factory farms and other big businesses from even the most basic public oversight, and it sounds more like the premise for a dystopian sci-fi novel than actual legislation.
Known collectively as the “Prosperity States Initiative,” these bills would let corporations band together to create special areas called “prosperity districts” where they would be exempt from most basic laws and regulations.
Under these bills, corporations could form territories around the state where essential environmental, labor, anti-discrimination, food safety, zoning, and other local, state, and federal laws couldn’t be enforced. In their place, a new government in each territory would be created, made up of seven people cherry-picked by the very companies they’re meant to regulate.
In short, these bills would dismantle the delicate interplay of checks and balances set up by our local, state, and federal systems of government, and replace it with oases of virtually unchecked corporate power. That may please factory farmers, who would prefer that there be no rules governing their abusive and polluting industry, but it’s an affront to the will of the people.
It only shows how desperate factory farmers are for special legislative privileges. Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted against a similar but less drastic proposal last November, the “right to farm” amendment, known as State Question 777. Even so, the state house of representatives was pressured into passing House Bill 2132, an 88-page prosperity district bill that former Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmondson described as “State Question 777 on steroids.”
Fortunately, the bill died in the senate last week after it was met with broad opposition from animal protection groups, environmentalists, women’s advocates, Oklahoma communities and public representatives, and leading local newspapers—all determined to defend our fragile democracy from factory farms and other big businesses.
Similar legislation has failed in North Dakota and Mississippi, and appears to have stalled in Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, and Missouri. Mercy For Animals will vigilantly monitor and speak out about this dangerous plan, which will almost certainly resurface next year.
The failure of the prosperity district agenda so far shows that lawmakers should be listening to their constituents by demanding more oversight of factory farms, not less. You can send an important message by taking factory farm cruelty off your plate. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn how.